Close-up of brown bat with nose fungus. Photo: Ryan von Linden / New York Department of Environmental Conservation
Scientists might have found a new way to combat white-nose syndrome, a disease caused by a fungus killing millions of bats in the U.S. and Canada.
Jon Palmer is a research botanist with the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station. His team discovered that the fungus is highly sensitive to ultraviolet light. Palmer says they used a process called comparative genomics.
“We compare the genes and the DNA sequence from the pathogen to these fungi that are non-pathogenic and we look for differences,” he says. “So one of the differences that we found was that the pathogen was missing this key enzyme involved in DNA repair. And without this enzyme, the fungus is unable to repair DNA damage caused by ultraviolet light.”